IPA latest – HS2 is in the ‘red’

Last week, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority published its IPA annual report, rating major Government projects on their progress.

Both HS2 Phase 1 and HS2 Phase 2a have been rated as red – that is ‘unachievable’.

This follows on from years when HS2 was mainly rated amber/red with the occasional amber – we first reported the amber-red rating for HS2 in 2012.

It’s worth noting that the IPA split HS2 into three parts for its report in 2021, so it doesn’t have earlier data in the current report, (it was only after that that a single short section, from Birmingham to Crewe, got the only green rating of the entire project in a decade of reports). However the earlier ratings can be followed up in the 2019 report.

The full description of ‘red’ is “Successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable. There are major issues with project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable. The project may need re-scoping and/or its overall viability reassessed.”

The red rating is a damning indictment of a failed project.  HS2 Ltd and the Government have already de-scoped the project, by dropping the Eastern leg of HS2 and ‘pausing’ the plans for Euston.  They’ve massively upped the budget, they’ve delayed the opening date of all phases of HS2.


While the report itself gives very little information, there is more in the associated spreadsheet which can be downloaded from the links here.

Explaining the new ratings, the DfT had the following to say:

Project Name IPA Delivery Confidence Assessment Departmental commentary on actions planned or taken on the IPA rating.
HS2 Phase 1 Red Compared to financial year 21/22-Q4, the Infrastructure Project Authority’s Delivery Confidence Assessment rating at 22/23-Q4 decreased from Amber to Red. This is primarily due to the following factors.
The Spring Budget required HS2 to rephase parts of Phase 1 to reduce expenditure over the next two years to help manage overall government expenditure whilst protecting the Old Oak Common to Birmingham Curzon Street section. HS2 Ltd has reported further cost pressures across Phase 1 which are currently being reviewed by HS2 Ltd’s Board. Phase 1’s delivery targets for cost and schedule will need to be amended to address these changes and to address excess inflation given costs continue to be measured in 2019 values.
HS2 Phase 2a Red Compared to financial year 21/22-Q4, the Infrastructure Project Authority’s Delivery Confidence Assessment rating at 22/23-Q4 decreased from Green to Red. This is primarily due to the following factors.
The Spring Budget confirmed that the Government is committed to delivering HS2 Phase 2a between Birmingham and Crewe. However, due to significant inflationary pressures and increased project costs, this section will be rephased by two years, with an aim to deliver high-speed services to Crewe and the North West as soon as possible after accounting for the delay in construction. The Department is continuing to work through the cost and programme implications of this rephasing decision with HS2 Ltd, and further details, including a new delivery-into-service date range for HS2 Phase 2a, will be confirmed in due course.
HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg Amber Compared to financial year 21/22-Q4, the Infrastructure Project Authority’s Delivery Confidence Assessment rating at 22/23-Q4 remained at Amber. This is primarily due to the following factors.
The Spring Budget confirmed that the Government will continue to take the High Speed Rail (Crewe  Manchester) Bill through Parliament, and the Crewe-to-Manchester section will also form the foundations for improved rail services in the North through Northern Powerhouse Rail.

On the Schedule, the DfT said

Project Name IPA Delivery Confidence Assessment Departmental narrative on schedule, including any deviation from planned schedule (if necessary)
HS2 Phase 1 Red Old Oak Common to Birmingham Curzon Street remains on track to deliver initial services between 2029 and 2033. Works continue to be progressed north of Birmingham but may need to be slowed if necessary to protect initial services. Work south of Old Oak Common including Euston has been paused and a revised schedule depends on when funding is reinstated.(A much earlier timeline had Phase 1- including Euston – opening to passengers in 2026, and both legs of Phase 2 in 2033.)
HS2 Phase 2a Red The project’s end-date at 22/23-Q4 is awaiting reforecasting. Following the Written Ministerial Statement on 9 March and the Budget Statement on 15 March the department is resetting the Phase 2a programme. The schedule range of 2030-2034 was formally approved in June 2021, and an updated Delivery into Service range reflecting the 2-year rephasing of Phase 2a construction will be confirmed in due course.
HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg Amber Compared to financial year 21/22-Q4, the project’s end-date at 22/23-Q4 remained scheduled to finish in the range of 2035-2041. This remains subject to reduce funding for preparatory work including Ground Investigation over the next two years and will be reassessed on Royal Assent, subject to the will of Parliament.

On the Whole Life Costs (WLC) and benefits, the DfT said:

Project Name Departmental Narrative on Budgeted Whole Life Costs Departmental Narrative on Budgeted Benefits
 

HS2 Phase 1

WLC does not reflect the true up-front cost for HS2 so is not reported by DfT. The Target Cost for Phase One is 40.3bn, and the overall budget including Euston is 44.6bn. The HS2 budget is in 2019 terms and needs to be rebased to adjust for inflation. HS2 is experiencing high inflation, and HS2L has reported cost pressures, with its estimate at completion under review.On 9 March DfT committed to the delivery of HS2 between Old Oak Common and Birmingham Curzon Street but delayed other parts of Phase 1. DfT and HS2 Ltd are rescheduling delivery and reprofiling costs to protect vfm, but prolongation and delay costs have not been assessed, and will depend on when funding is available.DfT is committed to delivering services to Euston, and is working with HS2L on affordability to protect vfm, this includes investing in more mature designs and cost-effective delivery approaches.  

The project’s departmental-agree monetised benefits at 22/23-Q4 is 32850m.
The HS2 Programme tracks progress against its benefits baseline through quarterly reporting. This reporting is not monetised but uses natural measures to reflect whether the outcomes are being achieved. It continues to RAG rate Green overall in terms of the benefits being reported during design and construction. The work to reschedule delivery and reprofile costs will be reflected in revised benefits baselines. It is anticipated that benefits will be delayed rather than forfeited.

 

HS2 Phase 2a

The Department does not report on WLC as it does not reflect the true up-front cost for building HS2. The total capital forecast is 5.2-7.2bn (2019 prices). The current WLC cost status for Phase 2a is displayed as ‘zero’.Along with the wider UK economy, HS2 is experiencing high levels of inflation. Its budget remains in 2019 terms and needs to be rebased to adjust for observed inflation.The Ministerial Statement on 9 March by the Secretary of State for Transport committed to delivering HS2 Phase 2a between Birmingham and Crewe. In light of inflationary pressure and increased cost, we are re-phasing construction by two years  with an aim to deliver high-speed services to Crewe and the North West as soon as possible. DfT is working with HS2 Ltd to reschedule delivery and reprofile costs for Phase 2a in a way that protects value for money so far as is possible. This wil nevertheless introduce additional prolongation and remobilisation costs. Exempt under Section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (Commercial Interests) – Commercial interests.
 

HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg

The Department does not report on WLC as it does not reflect the true up-front cost for building HS2. Following the removal of the Golborne link, the total estimated cost range for Phase 2b Western Leg (Crewe-Manchester) is 13bn – 19bn (2019 prices).Along with the wider UK economy, HS2 is experiencing high levels of inflation. Its budget remains in 2019 terms and needs to be rebased to adjust for observed inflation. The project’s departmental-agree monetised benefits at 22/23-Q4 is 7535m.
The HS2 Programme tracks progress against its benefits baseline through quarterly reporting. This reporting is not monetised but uses natural measures to reflect whether the outcomes are being achieved. It continues to RAG rate Green overall in terms of the benefits being reported during design and construction. The work to reschedule delivery and reprofile costs will be reflected in revised benefits baselines. It is anticipated that benefits will be delayed rather than forfeited.

 

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